Snookerbacker

March 17, 2016

The Calm Before The Storm

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:32 am
It's not long now....

It’s not long now….

It’s nearly a week since the World Grand Prix finished and still another five days before any more snooker, but those who like a bit of a lull in proceedings before moving onto the next tournament, myself included, had better enjoy the break as from next Tuesday, snooker goes full throttle until the World Champion is crowned on May 2nd in Sheffield.

We start with the Finals of the Players Championship, or as most still refer to them, the PTC’s. This sees the 32 qualifiers battle it out over the best of seven format, up to the semi-final stages in Manchester in front of the ITV4 cameras. Sound familiar? Well, yes it is basically the World Grand Prix again, just in a different venue. The draw can be viewed here.

The most alarming thing for me about this is that it wasn’t played this week instead, as the two finalists in Manchester will presumably (if they have qualified) have to hire a tardis to get to Beijing for The China Open, which starts the following day. The draw for that is here. Mark Selby for instance did face the prospect of being in the final on Sunday night in Manchester and playing on Monday afternoon in Beijing. However, with the introduction of ‘floating slots‘, the gang at World Snooker have managed to somehow fit the timetable around those at the business end in Manchester, I could sit here and study the floating slot set up if I wanted to, but I’ll leave it to you to decipher if it will work or not, what could go wrong?

What follows is the best period in snooker of the season. Not just the big one at The Crucible, but also the qualifiers. For anyone who isn’t used to getting involved with the World Championship until the Crucible line-up is confirmed, all I can say is that you are missing out hugely. The qualifiers are at times as tense as the big event itself and the final qualifying round in particular is fantastic.

OK, we may only have two tables streamed but the scoreboard F5 key will be taking a hiding from those with a vested or even passing interest in the outcomes. The schedule is brutal, those who qualify will have very little time to rest before making their way down the road, but for the snooker fan, the qualifiers are an integral part of the whole event. They start just 3 days after China ends, in which time the draw will need to be made following the final ranking revision of the season.

In terms of how things look at the moment for Crucible places, below is how the draw would pan out if it were done today, but there is plenty of scope for all but defending (cursed) champion Bingham and world number one Selby’s slots to change so it’s really, as Clive would say, only of academic interest at this stage.

Can someone from outside the current top 16 steal a place in Manchester and/or China? Will Ding play his way in or face the prospect of three best of 19’s at Ponds Forge? So many questions are still to be answered, but as ever Matt has summarised some of the possible permutations here.

PROVISIONAL TOP HALF

Stuart Bingham (1) / Qualifier

Liang Wenbo (16) / Qualifier

Mark Allen (9) / Qualifier

Joe Perry (8) / Qualifier

Ronnie O’Sullivan (5) / Qualifier

Martin Gould (12) / Qualifier

Mark Williams (13) / Qualifier

Shaun Murphy (4) / Qualifier

PROVISIONAL BOTTOM HALF

Neil Robertson (3) / Qualifier

Marco Fu (14) / Qualifier

Barry Hawkins (11) / Qualifier

Judd Trump (6) / Qualifier

John Higgins (7) / Qualifier

Ricky Walden (10) / Qualifier

Michael White (15) / Qualifier

Mark Selby (2) / Qualifier

If any bookmakers out there fancy working in partnership with me for the World Championship, just email me at [email protected] for full details, the blog takes off when these are on and has several thousand hits daily, so it’s an ideal platform for any firm that wants to play along for the championship.

In terms of the amateur scene, we have the final qualifiers of the Snookerbacker Classic in Gloucester on Easter weekend and the Grand Finals back there the following weekend, so it’s a big period in the amateur game too. Add to this the play-offs at Ponds Forge for two further professional tour places and all this adds up to a bonanza period for all involved in the sport.

So have a rest for a couple more days, then dust off the anorak, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

 

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